I’ve already heaped plenty of praise on the story that was STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN – the four-part comic book story published by IDW Comics that, literally, set the stage for the events within JJ Abrams’ pretty solid STAR TREK (2009) motion picture. Briefly, everyone whom I know that read that story AND saw the motion picture praised how the two tales worked in sync ; one enhanced the other in such a way that you couldn’t imagine the other being told without it. Because of that success, it was probably only natural that IDW hoped to re-ignite the magic with STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN TO DARKNESS, which presumes the raise the stakes as to what one can expect when STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS opens this summer.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last paragraph for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
… therein lies the problem with this story: it appears – at this point of my awareness with the story (or should I say “the closely guarded possible story”) of STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS makes it almost impossible to deduce what impact the tale told here may have on the journey told then.
The story this far explores the efforts of former captain of the Starship Enterprise Robert April to circumvent Starfleet’s Prime Directive in order to save an entire race from probably extinction. There’s much ado of the adventure highlighting Kirk & his crew’s attempt to thwart April (which they kinda/sorta do – won’t spoil that for you) … but there’s this gnawing sensation in the pit of my stomach that reminds me they didn’t quite save the day. Again, avoiding specifics is paramount (or should I say ‘Paramount’?) here and I won’t ruin it for those who’ve yet to read it; suffice it to say that this story didn’t feel like a complete meal. It felt like a lesser adventure; the stakes weren’t nearly as high as what was presented in the first COUNTDOWN, and, except for some lingering hints of a galaxy-spanning conspiracy to undermine the Federation’s most noble pursuit, I’m not sure how much of this can effectively translate to the story that’s yet to come theatrically.
Still, the story by Roberto Orci and Mike Johnson is interesting. It postulates all of the good ‘morality play’ questions that have populated Star Trek since it began nearly fifty years ago. Some of the moments don’t quite feel true to the spirit of these characters as they were originally designed by Gene Roddenberry, but that may end up being nothing more than this old dog not being able to learn respect for any new tricks.
STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN TO DARKNESS (Part 4 of 4) is published by IDW Publishing Company. The story is by Roberto Orci and Mike Johnson; the art is provided by David Messina, with ink assistance from Marina Castelvetro; the coloring is by Claudia Scarletgothica; with lettering by Chris Mowry. The issue bears a cover price of $3.99, and that’s not too shabby for a tale promising to boldly go where no one has gone before.
RECOMMENDED. Based on what’s come before from IDW and Paramount when they teamed up to do these kinds of stories, I kinda/sorta expected something a bit grander – a bit larger in scope – than what played out in these pages. No, it wasn’t a disappointment; rather, it’s an appetizer for the meal that’s set to come when STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS opens soon. Then, I’ll try to remember to come back and provide a postscript update finalizing my thoughts on how well these brave new worlds mesh once the complete story is told.
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